Remove racist imagery from “Bon Voyage” promotions and other releases

Remove racist imagery from “Bon Voyage” promotions and other releases

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Asteri Li started this petition to WM Entertainment and

Oh My Girl’s YooA’s new Bon Voyage album release promotions include cultural appropriation of Cherokee, Blackfoot, and Inuit cultures. You can find the promotional photos here. Our goal with this petition is NOT to cancel, bully, or otherwise insult YooA, Oh My Girl or WM Entertainment. Instead, we call on YooA and WM Entertainment to provide the following:

1)    Written apologies from WM Entertainment in both English and Korean that include details of what they have done, the impacts of what they have done, and a commitment to educating staff about cultural appropriation to make sure that situations like this are not repeated

2)    A video apology from YooA

3)    The complete removal of culturally appropriated content from the Bon Voyage promotions and releases

Explanation of the Promotion’s Cultural Appropriation:

The face paint used in the Bon Voyage promotions uses characteristics from both traditional Inuit tattoos and Cherokee war paint for new warriors. War Paint for all Native American tribes is a part of culture and spirituality, which was criminalized in the United States up until 1978 when the AIRFA (American Indian Religious Freedom Act) was passed, granting Native Americans freedom of religion.

Additionally, war paint has been appropriated in redface, as well as in the promotion of racist tropes. This happened even during times when Native Americans could not wear their traditional war paint legally. You can find many prominent examples of this within “old west” movies.

Within this context, YooA is using the traditional war paint as an aesthetic. This is wrong and never justifiable. This is not appreciating, promoting, or sharing Native American cultures. This is mocking it. Many people have been claiming that the paint she is wearing is not war paint, but instead paint inspired by characters from the film Princess Mononoke. While aspects of the album's concept may be inspired by the film, the war paint is most definitely not.

(note: Even if the concept was completely based on Princess Mononoke, it would still be cultural appropriation because many characteristics used in the film’s character designs are based on Japanese shamanism.)

Some people have also pointed out that the face paint in some photos is also extremely similar to Inuit face tattoos. Inuit people have been persecuted for participating in this and other aspects of their own culture. In addition, their culture and traditions are closed to those outside of their tribes.

Some of the jewelry used within the Bon Voyage promotions is also appropriated from Native American cultures. The jewelry itself is not an issue. It is completely okay for Second Nations or Non-Native people to wear if it is ethically sourced. But mixing war paint with turquoise jewelry shuts down the Princess Mononoke argument. Wearing war paint as a Non-Native, which on its own is redface, and pairing it with jewelry that has been considered sacred and is specifically a Native American style erased all potential excuses in my mind about whether or not this is Native American CA/Red Face.

Overall, we want YooA, WM Entertainment, and others to understand that this concept is not inspired work, it is cultural appropriation. The concept is not inspired by Princess Mononoke, it is based on racial stereotypes, primarily about plains people, and appropriated from Native American cultures. This incident is inexcusable, and we ask that you join us in taking action against this cultural appropriation. 

In addition to signing this petition, you can take action by:

1)    Contacting WM Entertainment on Instagram and on Twitter (WM Entertainment main and Oh My Girl accounts) through comments, tweets, and DMs to tell them that the promotional concept is disrespectful and harmful

2)    Boycotting the single and album releases until the previously listed demands are met

(Please note: If you choose to complete any of these actions, please be respectful toward YooA, Oh My Girl, and WM Entertainment. Remember that our goal is to change the narrative surrounding this situation and take action against cultural appropriation and its harmful effects. We do NOT want to cancel, insult, or bully YooA, Oh My Girl, or WM Entertainment. In addition, please act respectfully toward everyone involved in the conversation, whether they be activists, fans, or others.

Additionally, we do not wish to harm YooA’s career. As fans, we hope that she will continue to have a successful career after this situation is dealt with appropriately.)

Thank you for your support in working toward a solution and calling out cultural appropriation.

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At 1,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!